Personal profile


John was appointed as the Ebenezer Howard Chair of Planning at the University of Hertfordshire in April 2021. He is the Programme Leader for the MSc Sustainable Planning.

John has had a varied career as a planner in both practice and academia, and is keen to bring both areas closer together. He tries to work across disciplinary boundaries, with the ultimate aim of improving people's lives by contributing to planning and development policy and practice. He is particularly interested in how cities grow in more "sustainable" ways, with an understanding of sustainability that considers all those involved, including those with less power and influence in the planning and development systems.

Research interests

  • Community Planning and Localism: Localism, decentralisation and devolution are changing the way planning happens around the world, perhaps most radically in England, where the 2011 Localism Act gives communities the power to prepare their own plans - "Neighbourhood Plans". John has explored how these new powers are being taken up, including exploring the initial view that they would be more popular in areas with a wealthier local population, and is now investigating whether Neighbourhood Planning can be used in a progressive way, particularly in urban areas. His 2020 co-authored book, Rescaling Urban Governance, published by Policy Press, brings together much of his research in this area.
  • Interrelationships between urban and rural: John is interested in the processes by which urban growth happens, specifically including the translation from the broad policy objectives of “higher” tiers of government (whether European, national or regional) into local outputs; the exercise of power to influence the planning system; and how "sustainable" is interpreted in different ways in different places and by different people. He was co-author of Green Belts: Past; present; future? and has written several papers and a book chapter looking at this topic in England, Europe, India and China.
  • The governance of public policy: John has published on professionalism in planners and fear amongst planning practitioners. He is currently working on a research project looking at ethics and the public interest in the planning profession.

Commercial and public engagement

  • John is is well engaged in local, national and international networks. In November 2019 he was proud to be elected as a Fellow of the Royal Town Planning Institute, an honour which reflects his contribution to the discipline and profession of planning over the duration of his career.
  • John is Co-Editor of Town Planning Review.


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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